Estes Holds On Wins FedEx Title
Bob Estes, perennial PGA Tour good guy, played the roll of heavy in the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Going head-to-head with John Daly, who used to own a house on the TPC at Southwind course, Estes snapped a seven-year winless streak by shooting an even-par 71 to earn his second career tour title.
Bob Estes talks about his win
Both of Estes victories have come in wire-to-wire fashion. He opened in 62 en route to winning the 1994 Texas Open and shot 61 Thursday at the FedEx.
'I guess that's the only way I can do it now,' joked Estes, who won $630,000. 'Now I know I have to get off to a good start every week if I hope to win more tournaments.'
In the end, Estes biggest opponents proved to be his nerves and Bernhard Langer. Langer, who hasnt won on the PGA Tour since the 1993 Masters, carded a 6-under-par 66 to finish one shot off the winning total of 17-under-par 267.
Estes started the day with a one-shot lead over Daly, who was coming off a record-tying round of 63.
A Daly bogey at the par-4 1st gave Estes an early two-shot advantage. However, Daly eagled the par-5 5th to pull even at 18-under.
Thats when things began to fall apart for the 35-year-old.
Dalys tee shot on the par-4 7th nestled against a pinecone in the right rough. Rather than risk taking a two-stroke penalty ' which would be enforced if the ball moved while moving the obstruction ' Daly blasted his second shot into the left rough some 60 yards short of the green. He eventually carded a bogey.
Down one, Daly endured a two-shot swing at the par-4 9th when he recorded a bogey while Estes racked up a birdie.
Another bogey ensued at the par-3 11th as Dalys tee shot bounced over the green and into the water hazard.
Once he bogeyed the 12th ' his fourth bogey in six holes ' Daly fell five shots back of Estes and out of contention.
Estes was cruising along on the back nine until he recorded just his second bogey of the tournament at the par-4 14th.
What was a four-shot lead was down to three. It quickly dwindled to just one.
Estes carded his second straight bogey at the 15th while Langer birdied the par-5 16th to pull within one of the lead at 16-under-par.
Langer then parred his way into the clubhouse to post a score of 16-under 268.
'He did extremely well,' Langer said of Estes. 'It's tough to lead all four days with the stuff that's going on. He had a brilliant round on Thursday and was in the lead the whole week.'
After a shaky par at the 16th, Estes steadied himself by sinking a six-foot par putt at the par-4 17th.
Up one with one to play, Estes stiffed his approach shot on the par-4 finishing hole to five feet. He missed the birdie putt but tapped in for par.
'I made it a little tougher than I meant to. I wanted a four- to five-stroke cushion coming down the stretch,' Estes said. 'You only got to win by one, don't you?'
News, Notes and Numbers
*Estes joins Jesper Parnevik (Honda Classic) as the only wire-to-wire winners on tour this season.
*2001 U.S. Ryder Cup captain Curtis Strange shot a 2-under-par 69 in the final round to tie for 5th place. Its the 46-year-olds first top-10 finish on tour since 1997.
*John Dalys tie for fifth is his best finish since a tie for fourth in the 1998 Nissan Open.
*Nick Price shot 67 on Sunday to tie for 8th with Parnevik. Price will now head to the U.S. Open at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Okla. Price was the last man to win a major at Southern Hills, doing so in the 1994 PGA Championship.
Full-field scores from the FedEx St. Jude Classic
Davies, 54, still thinks she can win, dreams of HOF
PHOENIX – Laura Davies limped around Wildfire Golf Club Saturday with an ache radiating from her left Achilles up into her calf muscle at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Every step is just misery,” Davies said after. “It’s just getting older. Don’t get old.”
She’s 54, but she played the third round as if she were 32 again.
That’s how old she was when she was the LPGA’s Rolex Player of the Year and won two major championships.
With every sweet swing Saturday, Davies peeled back the years, turning back the clock.
Rolling in a 6-foot birdie at the 17th, Davies moved into a tie for the lead with Inbee Park, a lead that wouldn’t last long with so many players still on the course when she finished. Still, with a 9-under-par 63, Davies moved into contention to try to become the oldest winner in LPGA history.
Davies has won 20 LPGA titles, 45 Ladies European Tour titles, but she hasn’t won an LPGA event in 17 years, since taking the Wegmans Rochester International.
Can she can surpass the mark Beth Daniel set winning at 46?
“I still think I can win,” Davies said. “This just backs that up for me. Other people, I don’t know, they’re always asking me now when I’m going to retire. I always say I’m still playing good golf, and now here’s the proof of it.”
Davies knows it will take a special day with the kind of final-round pressure building that she hasn’t experienced in awhile.
“The pressure will be a lot more tomorrow,” she said. “We'll see, won’t sleep that well tonight. The good news is that I’ll probably be four or five behind by the end of the day, so the pressure won’t be there as much.”
Davies acknowledged confidence is harder to garner, as disappointments and missed cuts pile up, but she’s holding on to her belief she can still win.
“I said to my caddie, `Jeez, I haven't been on top of the leaderboard for a long time,’” Davies said. “That's nice, obviously, but you’ve got to stay there. That's the biggest challenge.”
About that aching left leg, Davies was asked if it could prevent her from challenging on Sunday.
“I’ll crawl around if I have to,” she said.
Saturday’s 63 was Davies’ lowest round in an LPGA event since she shot 63 at the Wendy’s Championship a dozen years ago.
While Davies is a World Golf Hall of Famer, she has been sitting just outside the qualification standard needed to get into the LPGA Hall of Fame for a long time. She needs 27 points, but she has been stuck on 25 since her last victory in ’01. A regular tour title is worth one point, a major championship is worth two points.
Davies said she still dreams about qualifying.
“You never know,” she said.
Stenson leads strong cast of Bay Hill contenders
ORLANDO, Fla. – Henrik Stenson has a tortured history here at Bay Hill, a collection of close calls that have tested his mettle and certainly his patience.
Sunday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational won’t get any easier. Not with a course that is already firm and fast and fiery, just the way the King would have wanted it. And not with 13 players within five shots of the lead, a group that includes Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and, yes, even Tiger Woods.
Without his best stuff Saturday, Stenson still managed to edge ahead of Bryson DeChambeau to take a one-shot lead heading into the final round. It’s familiar territory for the Swede, who posted four consecutive top-10s here from 2013-16, including a few agonizing near-misses.
Three years ago, Stenson appeared on his way to victory when he was put on the clock on the 15th hole. Rattled, he three-putted the next two holes and lost by a stroke. The following year, he was tied for the lead with three holes to play, then hit it in the water on 16 and bogeyed two of the last three holes.
“It wouldn’t be the only tournament where you feel like you’ve got some unfinished business,” Stenson said, “but I’ve been up in the mix a few times and we’re here again, so of course I would like to see a different outcome.”
What will be interesting Sunday is whether history repeats itself.
Neither Stenson nor DeChambeau is quick-paced, with DeChambeau even acknowledging that he’s one of the game’s most methodical players, stepping off pitch shots and checking (and re-checking) his reads on the green. With so much at stake, it’s not a stretch to imagine both players grinding to a halt on a course that got “crusty” in the late-afternoon sun.
“We’ve got a lot of guys behind me,” DeChambeau said, “so I’ve got to go deep tomorrow.”
The 24-year-old earned his breakthrough victory last July at the John Deere Classic, but that was one hot week as he tried to play his way out of a slump.
Even this week’s performance was unexpected, after he withdrew from the Valspar Championship because of a balky back.
Last weekend he underwent an MRI (clean), didn’t touch a club for three days and showed up here cautiously optimistic. His ball-striking hasn’t suffered at all – in fact, he’s ranked fifth in strokes gained-tee to green – and now he’s relishing the chance to take on some of the game’s biggest names.
“Whatever happens,” he said, “it’s going to be a great learning experience.”
Of the 13 players within five shots of the lead, 10 are Tour winners. That includes McIlroy, whose putter has finally come alive, and Rose, who shot a third-round 67 to move within three shots, and Fowler, whose game is finally rounding into form, and also Woods, who has won a record eight times at Bay Hill.
Even if he doesn’t pick up a pre-Masters victory – he’s five shots back, the same deficit he erased here in 2009 – Woods has showed flashes of his old self at one of his favorite playgrounds, whether it’s the blistered 2-irons off the tee, the daring approach shots or the drained 40-footers.
“I’ve got a chance,” he said.
And so do the rest of the major champions and PGA Tour winners assembled near the top of the leaderboard.
It should be a wild final round at Arnie’s Place – even if Stenson, for once, is hoping for a drama-free Sunday.
DeChambeau uses big words to describe back injury
ORLANDO, Fla. – Bryson DeChambeau needed just 30 seconds of explaining the state of his lower back to send the media center at the Arnold Palmer Invitational spinning.
DeChambeau shot an even-par 72 in the third round at Bay Hill, and he will start the final round one shot behind Henrik Stenson as he looks to win for the second time in his young PGA Tour career. DeChambeau’s strong play this week comes in the wake of his decision to withdraw from last week’s Valspar Championship because of a bad back.
DeChambeau is no stranger to new vocabulary words or adopting a scientific take on matters, and it was when he delved into the details of his injury that things got interesting.
“It was because my quadratus lumborum wasn’t working. My iliacus, longissimus thoracis, they were all kind of over-working if you want to get technical on that,” DeChambeau said. “But they weren’t working very well, and I overworked them. Pretty much my lower right back was hurting and I rested it. How about that?”
DeChambeau tied for fifth at the Waste Management Phoenix Open last month, but he has struggled to find results in the weeks since. One of the keys to a quick recovery between Innisbrook and Bay Hill was some time on the couch this past weekend and a binge session of The Walking Dead on Netflix.
“I literally didn’t do anything, and that’s really the first time I’ve done that in my entire life. I’ve never actually taken three days off where I didn’t touch a club,” DeChambeau said. “So that was unique for me and actually took me some time to acclimate to that, my body to get comfortable to get in a rested state. And then once it was finally able to rest, it healed a little bit and I was able to make a run for it this week.”
Woods fielding Masters practice-round requests
ORLANDO, Fla. – Heading into what is likely his final competitive round before the Masters, Tiger Woods is starting to set up his schedule for the days leading into the season’s first major.
Woods has won the Masters four times, most recently in 2005, and in the wake of a runner-up at the Valspar Championship and a strong showing at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he’ll head down Magnolia Lane with more momentum than he’s had in years. As a result, it’s not surprising that he has received more than a few inquiries about a possible practice round at Augusta National Golf Club during Masters week.
“I’ve gotten a couple requests here and there,” Woods said with a grin after a third-round 69 at Bay Hill.
Woods has played the Masters only once since 2014, but don’t expect him to try out some unfamiliar pairings on Tuesday and Wednesday amid the azaleas. Woods still plans to rely on a rotation he’s had for several years, playing with former champs Fred Couples and Mark O’Meara. O’Meara, who received his green jacket from Woods in 1998, plans to make this year his final Masters start.
“I traditionally have played with Freddie, if he can. We’re hoping he can come back and play again and play Augusta. I’ve played with Mark just about every single year,” Woods said. “It’s generally been those two guys, and those are the two guys I’ve grown up with out here on Tour. We sit next to each other actually at the champions’ dinner, and so we have known each other for a very long time.”
While Woods is no stranger to fielding offers for tips and advice from younger players, especially on a course he knows as well as Augusta National, one top-ranked name continues to stick out among the requests he’s received in recent weeks.
“Just the normal JT (Justin Thomas),” Woods said. “He’s always trying to get some practice rounds in.”